The Socioeconomic Fabric of Bethesda's PA-DC: Dumb

Discussion in 'Fallout 3 Discussion' started by qi, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. qi

    qi First time out of the vault

    Oct 29, 2008
    I just don't understand it, sorry. There seems to be very little actually keeping anyone in the area - very little material incentive.

    In the Black Isle games, the world made pretty good sense. Isolated towns had no-one to depend upon but themselves and traders going between them, and raiders and slavers alike preyed upon both, while a few remaining "cities" handled "big" trade, drugs, weapons, put the slaves to use, etc. The immense and inhospitable span of the wastelands kept everyone more-or-less isolated from one-another, yet dependent upon one another for certain commodities, except in the case of tiny farm towns (Arroyo) and sprawling oases (Vault City.)

    In short, there were pretty good reasons for almost everyone to be where they were, doing what they were doing, for the locations that they occupied to exist in the first place and for those locations to be developing in the fashion that was apparent.

    But Bethesda's game is so nonsensical that it disperses all remnants of verisimilitude. Who are these "Wastelanders" and why would they, nearly 300 years after the war, be scrounging vagabonds in a wasteland depleted of its resources and plagued by threats that they are woefully unprepared to deal with?
    Why would an old woman live out of a tiny shack next to a river upon the other bank of which ferocious horrors stalk - who is she selling mirelurk meat to, who would have the money/barter or even the interest in that area? Talon Mercs? Outcasts? Unlikely - but would Megatons denizens really brave the trek just for some crabpeople-cakes?
    What locations are the traders travelling between - who besides Megaton would be interested in their goods? The raiders would murder them, the Tenpenny crew has its own stock... The only other identifiable source for commerce would be the isolated "neighborhoods," but what source of income do they have in order to trade? Andale has human meat, from, according to the game, travellers, which would eventually kill trade - but no other place that I can find in the game has even a hint of sustainable agriculture. Megaton has ONE brahmin - the rest, that I've found, are running wild. This is in stark contrast to agricultural systems depicted in the first two games, which made pretty good sense in most cases.

    Who has the money - or the need - to buy slaves? Who has cause or means to hire mercenaries or hitmen - and why would they be in such a hopeless locale anyway? What (plausible) different interests or locations suffice to make Megaton a sustained junction between them?

    I haven't been to Arefu or Rivet City yet, but so far as I'm aware, those are the only locations I haven't already dealt with that have a population significant enough that they may be involved in the socioeconomic structure of DC.

    I can't see any real reason for Bethesda's version of DC to be anything more than a STALKER-esque scavengers' battleground - and I daresay the game would've been a lot better done that way, if it had to be done at all.

    It's silly, surely, to over-analyze a dumbed-down, consoley game like this - but I think it all serves to support the statement that Bethesda's Oblivion-and-after "designers" are rather like base amateurs given AAA resources in that they don't possess (or at least don't express) any special intellectual, artistic, creative or logical approach to creating a story or a gameworld, and instead just amass an amorphous, chaotic clusterfuck of "hey what about this"-type ideas. This is reflected starkly in the "feel" of the world they've created, in which all the elements seem a random mish-mash instead of a cohesive, vital, dynamic environment.

    The end result is that the game is only a "Fallout" by strained association, and the post-apocalyptic ambience of the game is so vague and unstructured that it seems more fitting for a decade just after the war rather than centuries after.

    obama yo mama :roll:
  2. Crowley

    Crowley It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Dec 12, 2003
    You forgot about clean water which supposedly is a precious and hard to get commodity, yet you receive a dispenser for that in your house that never runs out.
  3. Roflcore

    Roflcore Mildly Dipped

    Nov 2, 2008
    Don't bother, Arefu and Rivet City gain their ressources like every other "town" - via the magical console.
  4. KillerBee256

    KillerBee256 Still Mildly Glowing

    Oct 31, 2008
    Rivet City has a hydroponics bay, not that the player ever sees it. Or most of boat for that matter.

    ZICKBONE First time out of the vault

    Oct 30, 2008
    Rivet city: they developed a research hub due to it's location near the water,witch was there subject of research, and they had some protection, enough so that a small town could form under it, offering safety from raiders and slavers with the drawbridge and stuff like that, tbh more logical that lets build a city around a big ass nuclear-bomb and hope it doesn't go off.

    Aerfu, i think they whined about "the Family" killing there livestock
    so i guess they used to be a small farm "town" producing just enough to survive and to trade a bit. i didn't see any grassing land or "pens" when i was there, although i didn't really look around that much

    ofc i can be total wrong, it's happened before

    but i generally agree with you say.
  6. Bloody William

    Bloody William First time out of the vault

    Oct 31, 2008
    Not trying to fanwank too much, but maybe the wastelanders and scavengers aren't citizens of Rivet City, Megaton, Canterberry, the smaller towns, actually heading out to look for food, supplies, water, that sort of thing? Maybe they're employees of the caravans, whose trade routes are pretty well-defined and who have to get new goods somehow beyond trade alone. Whenever you see wastelanders/scavengers, they're usually in places where there could be supplies (buildings in downtown DC, the super mega mart, scattered around other factories/warehouses/stores that probably had food and supplies at one time or another), and it makes sense that either the towns would send people out, or otherwise unskilled people (not enough weapons to be mercs, not knowing a trade that could be used in-town) would try to get those supplies and build up enough "wealth" so they could eke out an existence beyond scavenging.

    There were mercenaries and other wasteland malcontents in the Wasteland of Fallout 2, as well. Also, the Talon mercs and Regulators are both explained, and make a bit of sense. Berke and his employer sent Talon after you after you disarm the bomb in Megaton, and if you set it off, that's pretty much a big red flag for any survivors/people who heard about it to send the Regulators. For both cases, along with Riley's Rangers and any other merc group, when you have a wasteland of limited resources, several communities connected by trade caravans, and a lot of people who've wronged each other (the Capital Wasteland has no shortage of people pissed off at each other), there's certainly a market for hired guns, whether serving as hitmen or bodyguards.

    The caravans run between Megaton, Canterbury, Rivet City, and (I think) Tenpenny Tower, with likely stops in between for smaller communities on the routes. All of those towns probably have different things to trade in different quantities, and different needs. Rivet City doesn't exactly need any scrap metal and water is probably less of a problem than most. Megaton, out in the open with one brahmin (okay, I defintely admit that's sort of jarring, there should be more, but DC was never a big ranching or farming area to begin with, unlike Oregon and California), can probably always use more metal to fortify its walls and structures, but scavengers and its location gives it more access to food sources. Canterbury Commons is far from any major raider camp or stronghold, and is cohesive and protected enough to serve as a trade hub, geographically (the same with Megaton, whose fortifications make it a safe spot).

    Slavery was a big part of fallout 2 as well, and there's little reason slavery wouldn't also be one of the darker aspects of Fallout 3 as well. It's not seen in the civilized parts of the Wasteland, but since disposable, unpaid laborers are always useful, whether they're maintaining equipment, farming, or just being cannon fodder. There were also strong indications in a lot of raider camps that at least some of them engaged in cannibalism (their gruesomeness was second only to the supermutants and their gore bags).

    The mirelurk lady... I really have no idea. Heh.
  7. rcorporon

    rcorporon So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Jan 31, 2008
    I find, in general, FO3 feels like the bombs were dropped mere weeks before the PC leaves Vault 101. It doesn't seem that 300 years has passed at all.

    Beth really missed the boat in terms of atmosphere.
  8. qi

    qi First time out of the vault

    Oct 29, 2008
    Hi BW,

    Well I don't understand why there would be "citizens" of any of those places (apart from Rivet City, which I haven't visited, but sounds from descriptions in this thread as if it could be self-sustaining.) Nor can I see why there would be caravans going between them when no one location has anything to offer the others, let alone agriculture sufficient to provide for themselves. The economic basis for "city life" just doesn't seem to exist in Fallout 3 - if people are hunting and scavenging for sustenance, then there is only the basis for tribal communities, not for large-scale settlement and trade. How can anyone care about "wealth" when their needs for survival aren't met in any discernable fashion? And what good is wealth with nothing to spend it on or apply it towards? And how can any scavenger or settler lay claim to anything of value when there are heavily armed groups that could easily expropriate those assets? It's difficult to criticize this game's setting in linear logical terms because of there being so many random and irrational elements, so I apologize that I have to reply more to the "background" of your points than the points themselves. No disrespect intended.

    In my game, I've neither blown up the town nor ratted out Burke nor disarmed the bomb, yet I'm still classed as "very evil." Somehow, Talon Mercs AND Regulators are both after me. Again, it's not really possible to respond to your point, because you're operating on the assumption that the presence of these elements is logically valid, when my entire point is that they are not logical. Mercs were sensible in the settings of Fallout 1 and 2, because there existed in various communities and groups the material basis for wealth, the doling-out of which is all that prevents mercs from being or becoming raiders. I do not see in Fallout 3 any source of wealth that can be logically justified; there is no real economy to speak of and therefore no reasonable socioeconomic constructs possible beyond tribes (with the obvious exceptions of locations such as Vault 101 and Rivet City, both of which are more like "nation states" but still without real cause for large-scale trade or caravan routes.)

    If Rivet City is the central trading hub of all the communities in the game, then I could concede that the setting begins to make sense on the basis of Rivet City bartering portions of foodstock to surrounding settlements in exchange for a constant influx of tech and construction/repair material. I haven't gone to Rivet City in my game yet - I don't know if that's the case. But I've seen nothing in the game so far to suggest that circumstance. Also, this would exclude any possibility of caravaneers acting as independent "merchants" - we would have, instead, scattered tribal communities scavening constantly (and competing against one-another) for every last scrap of pre-war tech, and then they themselves presenting it to Rivet City.

    In any other circumstance, I just don't think that these town-based communities make sense, nor can I see how they would survive.

    What labor would slaves do? There's no agricultural or industrial function for them to serve in Bethesda's Fallout 3, however there were clear roles for them to serve in this regard in Fallouts 1/2. That only leaves them the function of serving as concubines or harems - or as food for cannibals. The former function requires agriculture sufficient to sustain them at the whim of a leader in possession of excess foodstuff beyond what is required for survival. The latter would be fitting in a logically-formed Beth's-DC, but not in Beth's-DC as it is exists; there would be no "slave trade," only slave raiding between tribal groups. And in any case, what do the slavers have to gain when there's no-one to buy anything useful from who would be remotely inclined to sell anything to them? And who in Beth's DC has the wealth to buy slaves - and is shown to be using them? I've met lots of slavers so far, but no slaves. If the raiders are eating them, then how could there be "slavers" - why wouldn't the raiders just kidnap and eat people themselves, i.e. raiding? And what would they offer to slavers (in Beth's DC) that the slavers couldn't get themselves in the process of subduing captives?

    It all falls apart as soon as you question the logical basis of the communities themselves as well as their interralations.
  9. Erny

    Erny It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 2, 2008
    Well qi, you are somewhat missing the point of the game. Its not meant to be an environment simualtion, its more like a stage for the stories and more importantly a playground for the player. Gameplay and experience first, realism, dare I say - last. Or next thing we complain about would be the lack of hands/arms when you pick physics objects...

    However, you are right, the overal primitivism of the settlments organization is very obvious and it affects the game.
    What was great about the complex socio-economic structure of the FO2 - it was all made for the player to play some role in. There were problems to solve, conflicts to resolve, sides to take and misteries to discover. Everything was somewhat related, even an unimportant NPC was a part of bigger picture, or a piece in some puzzle. And that made towns and the world feel alive and more impotantly it was fun to play (and replay many times, making different descisions)

    Rarely the case in FO3. Most charachters have no background, no story to tell. They play no role. They may serve a purpose (like 'trader', 'doctor', 'questgiver') at best, or just be a decoration. There are some cool quests in Fo3, based on interesting relations and conflicts that affect the whole towns life, but they are very few.

    Why so much emphasys on silly things like that survival book, and so little on something more life-important (like the ghouls vs tenpenny conflict for example)
    In other words - simple world with simple stories and quests. With some exceptions of course.

    Was it a deliberate design choice to make the game less deep for the modern console kids (and maybe save time on development too)? Or just lack of competence (tho Beth has many experienced designers who worked on FO2 and Thief etc) ... who knows
  10. qi

    qi First time out of the vault

    Oct 29, 2008
    I think you are labouring under a misapprehension as to the nature and content of my arguments. My objections don't stem from a lack of "reality," but a lack of intelligence and stimulation. I'm not asking that the elements of Fallout3's setting all conform to standard socioeconomic theory. I'm just saying that the world follows so little of any kind of discernable design philosophy that it has no logical cohesion. This is distinct from the first two games in the series, which made pretty good sense and were satisfying logically and stimulating intellectually.

    I agree with you that the focus of Beth's designers was, nevertheless, on gameplay, story and overall experience - but this because they seem to be incapable of visual artistry, creative writing or intelligent coding themselves and so had nothing to do in the course of their daily work but throw gameplay and story ideas at one-another.

    Had Beth succeeded in those points, I would be playing the game rather than criticizing it for inconsistencies that fall outside the scope of almost all games. My point is that they did not succeed and that a possible cause or result of that fact is that, when compared to the standards set by the earlier games or those standards that would be expected of a written work of fiction, the labors of Beth's designers result in puerile and irrational nonsense.

    Being nonsensical would be easy to overlook if the game were still stimulating due to its characters, narrative and gameplay. But this game just isn't. :?
  11. Sorrow

    Sorrow So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Feb 9, 2006
    Fo1 had farming, brahmins in pens, Shady Sands with its irrigation system, The Hub trading water, Adytum making bullets in exchange for food, etc., etc., etc.
  12. Bilaz

    Bilaz First time out of the vault

    Nov 9, 2008
    yes i agree many locations dont have any ingame logic behind them.
    little lamplight - 30+ children and big town (where grown ups go and from where new children should appear) with only 7 humans (and no hope to have any future, income and new children)

    or tenpenny tower where "rich" folk live - how they got rich? i expected to see a lot of poor people to live nearby and work for "rich" ones (make bullets/bramin/beer/drugs) but rich folks just live there unarmed and not protected, so tenpenny(or some crazy ghoul) could just take their money, dump them to basement with bullet in scull and nobody would notice.
  13. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf eaten by a grue.

    Aug 28, 2005
    You don't get it, Sorrow: you're not supposed to "think" about what's going on, or apply "logic" to it - you're supposed to have "fun." Go out and blast some supermutant behemoths with nukes!

    Thinking is for nerds.
  14. qi

    qi First time out of the vault

    Oct 29, 2008
    It's not just that the setting doesn't make logical sense as an abstract issue of interest only to students of history or economics.

    What it means, how it matters, is that, in the first two Fallout games, each town (and even most individual NPC's) really felt (to you the player) as if they were important in some way - nothing was a "quest in a vacuum," no NPC was an island. Interrelations and interdependence abounded. They didn't need to be spelt out starkly; they merged seamlessly with the plot, tone, and ambiance of the game, immersing the player naturally through familiarity and a more primal, perhaps ineffable connection to the cruel, indifferent and chaotic cause-and-effect that we all experience in real life (to greater or lesser degrees, depending upon our environments and our social/professional interactions.) The unifying socioeconomic features of the settings in the first two games (which did so much to involve the player with the who's and what's and where's they affected) were familiar, and thus involving, because they were fundamentally logical (though not perfectly realistic, admittedly. But it's not my point that perfect realism is ideal.)

    In the first two games, in every little interaction that you had, or choice that you made, or course that you took, there was a sense of repurcussions rippling throughout the whole of the game world - and through the future course of your character's life. This sort of feeling is essential to player involvement in the narrative of a good RPG or adventure game. And it's completely absent from Fallout 3, which is senselessly random instead of exhiliratingly chaotic and frustratingly juvenile rather than being oppressively bleak.

    :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: bravo qi we love your talking that you do :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

    i really want to make a game :oops:
  15. deadsanta

    deadsanta First time out of the vault

    Sep 5, 2008
    Yeah I had issues with it too. I got why people would be living there: Great scavenging opportunities close to downtown DC. I just didn't understand what anyone was doing for food or water, the former depends on the latter and the latter was all irradiated. I mean, if I drank that water daily, I'd be dead in a few weeks (4 rads a pop at the best water to be had) and so presumably would be anything I could safely eat.

    Also, OK, the groundwater I could see being pretty contaminated, but I don't understand how sealed packets of noodles would be. Also, I don't see how you could have any food at all left after 200 years, or how it would have any nutritional value at all if it was... it'd be like eating an old boot, or cardboard.

    Most of the trade shouldn't be happening just because the stuff that appears to be the basis for "scavving" trade (food, ammo, guns) would be completely destroyed after 200 years.

    Think about it this way: If you were remodelling your old home, and you broke into a pantry that had been boarded up since 1808, what do you think would be around, let alone edible? I'd guess nothing but some heavily cured/worked items like leather, coins and metal fasteners and the like, and none of it edible, certainly not the tinned food; Yet Fallout has a fair amount of canned pork and beans, and stuff in cardboard like cigarettes. Now, instead of just boarding up that pantry in 1808 in a continually used space that shelters it from the elements, blow it the fark up and expose the contents to the elements and see what you have left.
  16. MisterBibs

    MisterBibs First time out of the vault

    Oct 31, 2008
    Paraphrasing from the Fallout Bible - "Fallout's setting is based on what someone from 1950 would think a post-nuke place would be: barren landscape for miles."

    Fallout 1 doesn't look at all what a post-nuke society would look like after 84 years, much less 300. You know what it'd look like? Green. lots and lots of green. (I bought the book The World Without Us the same day I bought Fallout 3, and it's very enlightening.)

    It's the fundamental issue with Fallout's setting. Either you suspend progress (and keep things in ruins 300 years after a war), or nuclear, barren wasteland vanishes.
  17. Erny

    Erny It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 2, 2008
    I just think they added another zero by mistake. Its 20, not 200 by the look of it :)
  18. DOF_power

    DOF_power First time out of the vault

    Oct 29, 2008

    True, also all those virus-ed and/or mutated creatures would not exist.
  19. Wooz

    Wooz Vault Sweeper Admin Orderite

    May 18, 2003
    There's a difference between 'realistic' and 'plausible'.

    That's cute, but irrelevant. As you quoted yourself, the setting is based on what someone from the 50's would imagine it to be.

    See, the difference is that not everything in the original games was in ruins. You had a few pre-war ruins, entirely new settlements and city ruins adapted to the needs of its inhabitants.

    You didn't have PC-sized working computers all over the place.

    One of the biggest problems with Beth's portrayal of the game world is that it feels like the war happened a year or two beforehand. Standing pre-war wooden houses, metal and resources lying everywhere, fresh bomb craters... you name it. I won't even go into describing the sheer stupidity of a place like Andale.

  20. MisterBibs

    MisterBibs First time out of the vault

    Oct 31, 2008
    I'm not sure how to respond to that, given that that's what I'm saying. Want to blame someone for the fact that Fallout's setting is wasteland and ruin long after the Great War? That's Black Isle's sin.

    The only thing that struck me, in Fallout 1, as actually-constructed-since-the-great-war-by-normal-humans, was the BoS stuff. Everything else, from my perspective, was pre-war. (If you came out of an overcrowded Vault, why would you 'create' a town days away from it? Unless it existed already!)

    Those aren't pc-sized computers. Those are terminals connected to mainframes. Every terminal I've read mentions that in the header.